Written by Jeff Mackey
In the final chapter of a case we've been following for some time now, the Knoxville Zoo has agreed
to pay a $9,000 fine stemming from the death of elephant handler Stephanie James, who was crushed by
Edie, a female African elephant.
The zoo was initially cited after PETA urged the Tennessee
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) to enforce the law in the
wake of the highly preventable fatality. TOSHA agreed with PETA and assessed a
fine, but the zoo had contested the decision before finally settling the case
Benoit Dupont|cc by 2.0
In addition, after this incident, PETA urged the Knoxville
Zoo to switch to a safer and more humane method of working with captive
elephants called "protected contact," in which barriers always separate
elephants and handlers and bullhooks are never used, and the zoo agreed. While this is a definite improvement, no zoo can provide an adequate
environment for the needs of elephants, so PETA will stay on the job until all captive
animals are free.
Written by PETA
The owner of an Iowa roadside zoo called "Cricket Hollow" has suffered wounds to his head and torso after being attacked by a tiger there. Cricket Hollow is no stranger to problems: PETA has previously filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the local sheriff's department about filthy conditions and animals who were denied adequate water and shelter, and the unaccredited facility was recently issued an official warning by the USDA for repeatedly failing to provide animals with veterinary care and even clean, adequate, and safe shelter.
PETA routinely calls on all facilities with big cats, elephants, and orcas to adopt the protected-contact (PC) system, which means there is always a barrier between the animal and the handler. Zoos put animals and handlers at risk in free-contact systems. One recent example is the Knoxville Zoo, which was cited by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a keeper was fatally injured by an elephant who had had enough of being “controlled” by a bullhook (the zoo quickly instituted PC for all elephants).
Cricket Hollow has also placed "free tiger" ads in a swapsheet called Animal Finder's Guide, which peddles exotic animals to dealers and exhibitors. The surge in private ownership of big cats has led to an increasing number of attacks.
Please never patronize a roadside zoo or private menagerie. And if your city or town allows people to keep exotic animals as pets, contact PETA's Action Team to learn how to start a campaign to end this dangerous practice.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Tennessee officials agreed with PETA that the Knoxville Zoo should be penalized for allowing handlers to come into direct contact with elephants and has recommended $8,400 in fines in connection with the death of a handler earlier this year.
Since the attack, the zoo has switched to a safer and more humane method of managing captive elephants called "protected contact," in which barriers always separate elephants and handlers. Elephants handled through protected contact are never beaten with bullhooks.
It's time for all zoos to move to protected contact, before another elephant who has suffered one beating too many lashes out against the person holding the bullhook. If you live near a zoo that is still using pain, fear, and force to control elephants, such as the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.; Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida; and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California, contact our Action Team for help with launching a campaign to put an end to it.
Great news out of Knoxville: The Knoxville Zoo has decided to permanently employ the protected contact (PC) system to manage the elephants there.
PETA has been urging the zoo to switch to PC, which involves using a barrier such as a metal screen, bars, or a restraint chute to separate elephants and handlers at all times. In PC, handlers don't hit elephants with bullhooks or keep them chained up. Elephants who don't cooperate are never beaten. PC is a far safer and more humane method of managing captive elephants.
If you're planning a summer road trip, please keep in mind that the National Zoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom still use bullhooks and chains on elephants—so keep on driving.
PETA has asked officials with Tennessee's Division of Occupational Safety and Health to penalize the Knoxville Zoo for repeatedly allowing handlers to come into direct contact with the elephants there. Handler Stephanie James was crushed to death when an elephant named Edie pushed her into a bar in her enclosure in January.
sdixclifford/cc by 2.0
Despite a previous elephant attack at the zoo that resulted in injuries to at least two other handlers, the zoo refused to switch to the "protected contact" system of handling elephants—a much safer and more humane way of interacting with captive elephants. Protected contact, which is already being used by the majority of the accredited zoos in the country, involves the use of a barrier between elephants and handlers at all times. No bullhooks are used to punish and control elephants.
Zoos that have switched to protected contact report that the elephants' freedom to make choices about their lives has had a dramatic impact on the elephants' emotional well-being and reduces their aggression. The elephants are far more relaxed and content, and the system is far safer for zoo employees as well. The risk of human injury or death is nearly eliminated since there is little actual human-elephant contact.
After James' death, the Knoxville Zoo temporarily implemented protected contact. Let's hope that our call for action will prompt the zoo to make that change permanent.
One zoo employee has been killed and another maimed in incidents at two separate zoos on the same day. At Riverside Discovery Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, a chimpanzee bit a worker on the hand, severing two of her fingers and injuring a third. At the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, elephant handler Stephanie James died from injuries she sustained when an elephant crushed her against a wall.
These incidents illustrate the very real dangers posed by captive exotic animals—and why laws like those recently passed in Ohio and Oregon that ban exotic “pets” are so desperately needed. Attacks like the one on Ms. James are part of the reason why we're encouraging all zoos to switch to a protected-contact system of handling—and we're even offering to cover part of the costs.
In protected contact, which is already being used by more than half the accredited zoos in the country, a safety barrier is kept between elephants and handlers at all times. This eliminates the "need" to establish dominance over elephants through beatings with bullhooks and other forceful control methods. The Knoxville Zoo has temporarily implemented protected contact since the trainer's death and is re-evaluating its elephant-handling program.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.